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Archive for March, 2007 from Roy Lachica at the University of Oslo is a “web2.0 organic collaborative ontology socio-semantic polyscopic web research project.” Got it!

But seriously, it lets you tag bookmarks and maintain a social network. The big words come in because Fuzzzy lets you position a tag in an ontology. Here’s how the About page explains it:

When bookmarks are assigned a meaning using a standard like the ISO 13250 Topic Map then people as well as other computer systems can make use of the embedded knowledge in a more meaningful way. This way of categorising content is a middle way between the top-down monolithic taxonomy approach like the Yahoo directory and the more recent social tagging (folksonomy) approaches.

I’m interested to see how this experiment works out. There’s no question that the metadata it collects — in addition to classifying the resource according to a taxonomy, the site lets you check some boxes to indicate the resource’s “mood,” knowledge type, and details level — would be useful, but experience teaches us — until it confounds all teachings — that people generally resist attaching explicit metadata.

There are exceptions, and Metaweb‘s freebase may well turn out to be one. Because it’s an invitation-only beta, the best place to learn about it is Tim O’Reilly’s post about it. Paradoxically, because freebase is about metadata, users may pitch in to build it. It’s sucked in a bunch of the openly available sources of information, including Wikipedia and musicbrainz , and it has a user-extensible (via a wiki) set of metadata fields for the various types of entities in the world — so an entry for a business has a “headquarters” field but an entry for a CD does not.

Why would anyone fill in these fields? Because there’s probably one “anyone” interested enough to do so for each of the listings. Tim O’Reilly, for example, might be interested enough to fill in the form for O’Reilly Media. It only takes one person. This is the other side of networked, distributed projects: Not only can lots of people do tasks together that would be too big for any individual, but a single person can sometimes do a task for the entire group. If only 2% of the world tagged, 98% of the world’s stuff would be tagged eventually. (I totally made up those figures.)

Freebase will be fascinating to watch. If we do in fact build it, we’ll have a publicly accessible (Creative Commons licensed) ontology populated with tons of stuff we care about that will do much of what the Semantic Web is trying to do: Draw implicit connections, discover context, search better, and just in general be smarter users of a smarter Web. [Tags: ]

From sticky eyeballs to sticky content

I’ve been thinking about USA Today’s admirable conversationalizing of its site. I don’t think it will do what they want, although I’d be happy to be wrong (which means I must be happy most of them time).

The problem is that the best newspaper is the meta-newspaper, the one that pulls together articles from every conceivable source, from USA Today to the India Times to Aunt Margie’s blog. Why would I go to one of the sources as my news home when I can pull them all to me? Sure, I’ll go to read an article linked to in one of the aggregation sites, but that’s not what is after. Against their wishes, their content is coming unstuck…which is the best way to get my “eyeballs” to come to their site.

It may be that one of the news sources can reinvent itself as the best damn news aggregation site, but it’s not probable since they’re likely to prefer their own content. The site will have to compete with the very best aggregators around, although the newspaper’s brand and market presence and trustworthiness does count for something. We’ll see how it turns out.

(I still think the USAToday site needs to provide a thumbs down option as well as a thumbs up button. Don’t they know we readers want our revenge?) [Tags: ]

Polar blog

The University of Alabama at Birgmingham has a lab full o’ bloggers in Antarctica. They’re posting up a blizzard, and filing photos at flickr as well. Very cool, so to speak. (Thanks to Jeff Keeton for the link.) [Tags: ]

MySpace News

Terry Heaton and Steve Safran discuss the news that MySpace is getting into the news biz. Fascinating. This could be a big way we put front pages together for one another (where front page = feed, aggregator, outcome of any recommendation engine, or a vague handwave in a particular direction).

Today for me basically consists of a few hours at home between planes, but I did have a chance to poke at the USA Today networked journalism foray. It’s definitely getting there, although only having “thumbs up” buttons for articles, and no “thumbs down,” I suspect will doom that feature to irrelevance. But, we’ll see. And they can always add opposed thumbs if they want to. [Tags: ]

USAToday takes the plunge

USA Today, a newspaper I like more than do most of the people I respect, is going conversational. I haven’t had a chance to poke around much — the f2c conference is all-consuming — but I like the way they’re talking, anyway. Digg-like recommendations. Feeds from other news sources. Selected blog posts. Comments. I hope they get it right. (Features list.) [Tags: ]

NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” has added a blog: Blog of the Nation.

[f2c] Journalism panel

jonathan Krim of is leading a panel. On it are: The Dan (Gillmor), Mark Tapscott of The Washington Examiner, Bill Allison of The Sunlight Foundation.

Dan begins by saying that some types of stories, particularly ones that can be broken into small pieces, lend themselves to distributed journalism. He points to a story done by Talking Points Memo and to the possibility of opening up the WSJ’s current series on options back-dating. [From the chat, Jerry Michalski points to a Chicago crime map mashup. Steve Crandall points to a map of Iraqi casualties by US geography.]

Bill talks about citizen investigations of House corruption.

Mark says he’s “Dan Gillmor’s bastard child.” He read We the Media and was struck by Dan saying “My readers know more than I do.” At the Washington Examiner, he suggested making readers part of the staff. They set up the Washington Examiner Community Action

Jonathan asks whether distributed journalism undermines the notion that journalism is a craft. Does it undermine professionalism? Does it have a negative impact, in addition to the positive impacts?

Mark says that that’s the big question. “I call them collaborative networks rather than distributed.” “Distributed” has a whiff that it’s distributed from on high, he says. Bill says that it results in better journalism. Dan says that if more institutions used these techniques, it would make them more credible. Dan says he thinks it’ll be good for journalism, although it may not be good for the traditional institutions of journalism.

Q: (Steve Crocker): This is exciting. What’s the reaction going to be?
A: (Jonathan) The sea change will be tremendous at the corporate level, if these changes evolve as we hope.

A: (Dan). Privacy is likely to be the lever by which government shuts down access to data.

Q: Journalism has received the most friendly of challenges, compared to what we’ve said about other gatekeepers such as the telcos. at DailyKos, there’s some media bashing, but more often people will point to stories, or complain that journalists haven’t lived up to journalistic standards.

Q: (Yochai Benkler) What you’re experiencing is not unusual. College teachers worry about their kids reading Wikipedia. Many companies have been worried about using open source software. All sorts of authorities are worried. The mainstream media itself contributes to the undermining of science by treating everything as 50-50. There’s pushback now on this.

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Who’s reading from where?

I’m adding a ClustrMap to the righthand frame. It shows where visitors to the site are located, presumably based on an attempt to figure out where their IP address is coming from. This is an inexact science, but, then, not much hangs on whether the map is exactly right or not.

Locations of visitors to this page

Live Blogging: Threat or menace?

The Wall Street Journal has a piece by Jennifer Saranow about live blogging personal events that’s entertaining, provocative, and ends with an anecdote about the Accordian Guy, Wendy Koslow and AKMA.

It’s a nicely done piece, although I’m not satisfied with its main explanation of why people live blog everything from births to funerals. Jennifer seems to view it as a type of narcissism. But all writing in public is narcissistic —”Hey, listen to me!” — and I’m not sure that live blogging is especially so. For one thing, frequently live bloggers are writing about other people’s events.

I don’t have an alternative hypothesis to offer. Live blogging is inexplicable enough that it seems likely to be an indicator of a more important fault line in how we’re constructing public and private spaces. Or something. [Tags: ]

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